To Andrea Brennan, Maikao Vue, Erik Hansen, Jacob Frey, Peter Ebnet, and all who should be concerned:
Residents of “Near North Camp” at 201 Girard Ave N, former residents, and people standing in solidarity reject the threats from the city of Minneapolis to destroy this community.
People have made a home on this land, left vacant by the Office of Community Planning & Economic Development. Unhoused people have put this public property to good use ever since leaving B.F. Nelson park under threat of attack by Parks police in fall of 2020.
The city of Minneapolis tries hard to present an air of inevitability when moving to destroy encampments, but we have proven destruction of this encampment can be stopped. The city can peacefully get the land empty again by providing housing or alternative land that residents would voluntarily move to. Instead, you have repeatedly chosen force and do not even give time it takes people to slowly obtain federal housing assistance.
During the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, another Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the neck of a person successfully defending the camp. You have shown everyone that limits on policing and the arbitrary coercive power of government does not come through voting, but rather only through direct action— as occurred, dramatically, at this very camp.
Who made the decision to force people off of this land? Jacob Frey, this violence is ultimately on you. Are you deciding whose homes get destroyed personally on your whim? Or can you name who exactly is making the decision?
Mid-winter, way to go, jerks! Perfect time to kick people out, with no alternative.Sandy (former resident of Near North camp)
How was this decision made? It speaks to the very illegitimacy of the government that not only are the people most affected by a city decision not consulted, but the agencies responsible do not even offer a basis for decision-making. We ask again.
Does CPED or any other governmental office have a full census of people living on the land you have labeled “Please Vacate”?
Is Maikao Vue or anyone responsible for identifying places where people can go?
Moving places of residence for any reason during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic drastically increases the potential harm on top of the already known strong negative health effects of eviction, especially with the highly contagious, vaccine-breaking Omicron variant spiking in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and nationwide. Have these facts been considered in the decision to declare, with no reasons given, that “All tents, structures and personal belongings must be moved January 11th 2022”?
The federal government specifically instructs: “If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are.” And further correctly notes: “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.” For what possible reason would Minneapolis go against these minimal common-sense rules? In addition, local governments are expected to address factors for public health, such as this question which we also ask: “What proportion of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the community have been vaccinated against COVID-19?“
Will the city of Minneapolis make use of FEMA money to put people in hotels rather than unsafe, temporary, and unreliable congregate shelters—or no shelter at all—during the ongoing pandemic?
Minneapolis’ failure to make use of resources that the city does not even need to bear the costs for is a staggering clue to why there is not a better option than living outdoors in winter in Minnesota. Instead the city chooses violence.
Andrea Brennan, Jacob Frey, Peter Ebnet, Erik Hansen, and Maikao Vue: Will each of you commit to not using coercion or violence to force people from this land? Not from police, Public Works workers and machines, or otherwise?
Note: The Community Planning and Economic Development office (CPED) is listed as the owner of this public land, the same situation for the “1913” camp which was destroyed using deception and coercion. Andrea Brennan is CPED’s Executive Director. Erik Hansen is CPED’s Economic Policy & Development director. Maikao Vue is CPED’s (and therefore Minneapolis’) Homeless Response Coordinator. Vue’s job description puts the position under Housing and Policy Development director Elfric Porte, but the organization chart for CPED lists Vue under Operations & Innovation director Karuna Mahajan and manager of Policy, Research & Outreach Katie Topinka. E-mail addresses for the city of Minneapolis tend to be firstname.lastname@example.org and phone numbers are 612 673 plus the four digits following the ‘x’ after their name on the org chart.
Update 2021 October 30: This sign was posted at the camp today.